Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, on November 9, presented one of the nation's highest civilian awards to Father Carlos Gonzalvez Valles (posthumously) for literature and education.
Spanish Jesuit Father Valles, who had become an Indian citizen, was honoured with the "Padma Shri" (Lotus honored), the fourth highest in the awards. He was one of the 102 selected for Padma Shri.
It was significant and coincidental that Father Valles died in Madrid, capital of Spain, at the age of 95, exactly a year ago on November 9, 2020.
He was a prolific writer and published over 78 books in the Gujarati language on value education, life essays, and living it.
Besides, he has also written several books in English and Spanish for 22 years.
He taught mathematics at St Xavier's College, Ahmedabad, the largest city in the state of Gujarat, western India.
"During that time for ten years, he lived among the people in the bylanes, endearing himself to all, especially the Jain community who held him in high esteem," Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash, " Ahmedabad-based human rights activist and writer, told Radio Veritas Asia.
"For his unparalleled contribution to India, Father Valles should have been accorded national recognition many years earlier and when he was alive," added Father Prakash. "It is a small consolation that he is honoured with a Padma Shri after his death, but that is welcome too."
Born in Logrono on November 4, 1925, Father Valles entered the Society of Jesus at the age of 15. On April 24, 1958, he was ordained a priest.
At the age of 24, he came to India in 1949 as a missionary. After decades of work in India, the Jesuit returned to Spain to be with his mother, who was 90 years old then. She passed away at the age of 101.
He had won several literary awards for his work. The Gujarat government awarded him for his essays five times. He was the first foreign national to receive Ranjitram Suvarna Chandrak, the highest award in Gujarati literature, in 1978.
On the eve of India's Republic Day, January 26, the federal government announces the Padma Awards annually.
The ceremony to honour the recipients was not held in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 1954, the government instituted two civilian awards, namely, "Bharat Ratna" (Indian Jewel) and "Padma Vibhushan" (lotus ornated). The latter had three categories as "Pahela Varg," "Dusra Varg," and "Tisra Varg," which were later on changed into Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri in 1955.
According to government sources, for 2021, seven received Padma Vibhushan, 10 won Padma Bhushan and 102 got Padma Shri. Among these awardees, 29 women and one trans person were included.
Likewise, for 2020, seven got Padma Vibhushan, 16 of them were for Padma Bhushan and 118 received Padma Shri, including 12 were awarded posthumously.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.